Christian Theology and Film

  • Professor(s): Terry Lindvall, PhD
  • When: 2008
  • Where: Virginia Wesleyan College / Taylor
  • Source
  • Christian Theology and Film is a class devoted to exploring how the fields of Christian theology and film studies cross-fertilize each other, with special attention given to the ways in which film functions as religious discourse. Students will investigate the historical evolution of film as a means of communicating theological doctrines or Christian themes through its narrative patterns and to analyze how religious and secular films have been and are constructed as cultural texts that advise not only how one should live, but what one should believe. In particular, we will explore the sermonic nature of film, various hermeneutics of film, and how audiences receive and appropriate both manifest and latent religious meanings. The primary mode of focus for this course will be to trace decades of faith, decades of doubt, exploring how cinema reaffirms, subverts, or purifies one’s dogmas and one’s experiences.
    What that means is that we will investigate how films tend to reaffirm one’s belief system or how they tend to provoke doubt and questioning. Beyond this, we will also examine how each of us responds to film; how we interpret films through our own lenses or basic assumptions; and we fit their rhetorical messages into the web of beliefs that we hold. In particular, we will test the supportive or subversive impact of religious films to sustain faith or advocate doubt and how such encounters might encourage (or discourage) a discussion of such issues and values.

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